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US stocks end at records after solid growth data

WT24 Desk

NEW YORK – Wall Street stocks rode strong US growth data and solid corporate earnings to another record-setting session on Friday, while the euro skidded to a near two-year low against the dollar amid angst over the European economy, AFP reports.

Oil prices also retreated as US President Donald Trump revived a call for
OPEC to boost production.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished at records for the second time this
week as official data estimated US first-quarter growth at 3.2 percent, much
above analyst expectations and an improvement on the 2.2 percent growth in the final quarter of 2018.

Adding to investor cheer has been a deluge of first-quarter earnings
reports that have generally topped expectations.

While there have been a handful of disappointments, “earnings have gone
very well,” said Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Service, adding
one downside of the improved US data for stocks could be a revival of talk
that the Federal Reserve will shift course from its current dovish posture.

The S&P 500 shook off early weakness and finished up 0.5 percent at
2,939.88, an all-time high.

In European deals on Friday, London stocks closed 0.1 percent down, hit by
news of falling first-quarter profits at British state-rescued lender Royal
Bank of Scotland.

Frankfurt gained 0.3 percent while Paris rose 0.2 percent.

“While positive earning numbers have lent massive support to US equities,
it’s hard to ignore the inescapable fact that we are back to the divergent
economic narrative where the US economy is on fire while ice water continued to pour over the rest of the globe,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.

– Euro hits low –

In further signs of European weakness, the euro hit $1.1112, its lowest
level against the dollar since May 2017, before rebounding.

“Currency traders are flocking to the perceived safety of the US dollar as
the economic problems of the eurozone continue to play out,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Oil prices, meanwhile, finished solidly lower, with US benchmark West
Texas Intermediate ending at $63.30 a barrel, down 2.9 percent.

Trump described his efforts to coax more production from exporters,
telling reporters “I called up OPEC. I said, ‘You got to bring them down.’”

Later in the day, Trump declared victory on Twitter, saying “Spoke to
Saudi Arabia and others about increasing oil flow. All are in agreement.”

US gasoline futures fell on Friday.

However, prices at the pump have been rising steadily all year to an
average of $2.883 a gallon for regular grade, up from $2.648 a month ago, due to rising demand that is draining stocks, according to data from US motorists organization AAA.

– Key figures around 2100 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 26,543.33 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.5 percent at 2,939.88 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 8,146.40 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,428.19(close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 12,315.18 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,569.36 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,500.41 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 22,258.73 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 29,605.01 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 3,086.40 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1149 from $1.1132 at 2100 GMT Thursday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2917 from $1.2899

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.60 from 111.63

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN $2.20 at $72.15 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.91 cents at $63.30 per barrel

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